Following Michigan State’s loss to BYU last week Coach Dantonio stressed that they did not want a quarterback battle. Fast forward to this week and that’s exactly what the team has. Mark Dantonio and his coaching staff made the decision to bench senior QB and team captain, Tyler O’Connor and start red shirt freshman Brian Lewerke.
Lewerke is out of Phoenix, Arizona and camped very well this past spring and summer. So well, in fact, that Dantonio expressed that he was “Kirk Cousins like,” a young athlete who had great success at MSU and has continued to have great success as he’s journeyed up into the NFL.
Co-Offensive coordinator, Dave Warner, explained; “We had an evaluation throughout the week and made the final decision Thursday. He gave some life to our offense and played well to start things off, but became stagnant and we decided to give it to Tyler O’Connor.” When Lewerke took the field he was poised, confident, and threw a 33 yard pass in his first drive. However, like Warner stated he began to loss steam and displayed his young age and lack of gameplay experience.
The Spartans looked to Tyler O’Connor to captain the team once again at the start of the second half. O’Connor also came out poised and confident, but mistakes deteriorated this confidence and the team began to slip. Tyler O’Connor was 13-21 for 281 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception, and 3 sacks. Compared to Lewerke's 12-19 for 99 passing yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 sack. Both quarterbacks ran a smidge, and Lewerke exhibited some respectable quarterback scrambling. He finished the game with 7 attempts for 38 rushing yards.
According to Dantonio the plan was always to default back to O’Connor if Lewerke was unable to perform a full four quarters. When asked about the dueling quarterbacks performances Dantonio answered: “Both guys did some good things, both guys did some things they’d like to give back.” It’s a battle of youth versus experience, and Dantonio was unable to name a starter for their game next week against Maryland. He has an obligation to all players, seniors and freshman, and the best player will secure the position of QB.As a whole, the team has adjusted their goal mindset and are now focusing on one moment at a time. The MSU football team took Lewerke and created a shock moment this week, and next week will bring a whole new moment for the Michigan State quarterbacks.